The past year-plus has demonstrated how resilient New York City's restaurants and bars are. Many opened or expanded outdoor dining and new takeout and delivery options. And happily, the list of new openings continues to grow. Still, the number of businesses that have had to close their doors for good is staggering. Many New Yorkers didn’t have a chance to say goodbye to the following establishments, but we think of them fondly.
60 notable NYC restaurants and bars that permanently closed over the last year
New Yorkers didn’t have a chance to give a final farewell to some of their favorite restaurants and bars.
The NYC restaurants and bars we miss
The Alinea Group’s high-end cocktail dens—The Aviary NYC and The Office (a more speakeasy concept)—inside the Mandarin Oriental were reportedly already slated to close in April but the pandemic pushed the opening date ahead. We marveled at the mad scientist-level concoctions here (even if the pricey cocktails meant it wasn’t an everyday spot).
Eddie Huang’s hit pork buns, dubbed the Chairman Bao, lured countless fans to his tiny shops downtown—he started in the Lower East Side in 2009 and eventually opened in the East Village on 14th Street—for the glistening slabs of Niman Ranch pork belly topped with Taiwanese condiments like powdered peanuts mixed with red sugar and pickled mustard greens sandwiched between. Other hits, which were perennial favorites on the best cheap eats lists across the city, included the Birdhaus Bao (fried chicken), Uncle Jesse Bao (fried tofu) and Fried Fish Bao—they were all under $6 each.
Delores Tronco-DePierro, who opened Denver's popular Work & Class, and her husband, executive chef John DePierro, offered a taste of difficult-to-find Southwestern bites. The dinner menu presented dishes like pork spiked with hatch green chillies, New Mexican wedding cookies topped with toasted corn ice cream and other intriguing items.
Danny Meyer’s jazzy barbecue joint routinely topped the short list of Manhattan’s best ’cue contenders with both wet sauces and dry rubs. However, it wasn't enough for the Flatiron spot to withstand the pressures of the pandemic: “Over nearly two decades, we’ve had an amazing ride and I can’t begin to express how beautiful it has been to make so many lasting friendships in both the barbecue and jazz communities,” Meyer said in a closing statement in December. “Those relationships live on.”
The health-focused plates like chutney-topped cauliflower steak and quinoa tagliatelli studded with beet greens and sunflower kernels at the 70-seat American dining room had a loyal (and often stylish) following. But like restaurants before it, the ace location on Sixth Avenue and Bleecker remains tough for business—and even moreso during the current crisis.
For those who crave not just great drinks, but also the culture of drinking well, there's a certain thrill that comes with encountering a bar that you want to get to know beyond the first date. The gorgeous Donna, a breezy, rum-soaked drinkery secreted away near the Williamsburg waterfront, was long-term relationship material. Alas, a tragic break-up was inevitable due to COVID-19: In a statement on the bar's website, co-owner Leif Young Huckman wrote, "Donna will offer its last service for the foreseeable future on Saturday, November 28th. We overcame the famine of our first months of operation, a fire in year two, but after 8 ½ years of service, we cannot overcome this plague."
Long before Williamsburg became so trendy that it was no longer truly hip, Egg was the spot for breakfasts and long weekend brunches. You'd perch on mismatched chairs at a paper-covered table, wake up at a leisurely speed to the old-time folk music on the sound system, and tuck into a cheap meal that may include eggs Rothko (a slice of brioche with a hole in the middle that accommodates a sunny-side-up egg, all of which is covered with sharp cheddar) or a terrific country-ham biscuit sandwich.
This respected bars served drinks that felt like they came from a mad scientist's lab witih lots of high-tech and wizardry. The seasoned owners Dave Arnold (Booker and Dax), Don Lee (PDT) and Greg Boehm (Cocktail Kingdom) ensured the cocktails were painstakingly perfect.
This Lower East Side nook moved to the Bowery and fans followed them for the comforting dumplings and their specialty in hand-pulled noodles from China's northwestern province of Lanzhou. 88 Lan Zhou was budget friendly, filling and delicious—exactly the type of restaurant we crave today more than ever.
"It's with bittersweet news that we're officially announcing the closing of our doors here at Feast," the restaurant's team announced on Instagram back in November. But, thankfully here, with bad news comes some good: Texas-inspired newcomer Yellow Rose has permanently moved into the space after a weeks-long pop-up collaboration with the Feast crew.
An East Village fixture for nearly 100 years, Gem Spa was known as much for serving its egg creams as its punk roots. The shop was already struggling to survive, but the last few months were just too tough.
Crowds flocked to this Crown Heights mainstay for authentic (and inexpensive) Trinidadian eats. Like many restaurants, Gloria's was forced to shutter in 2020, but surprisingly not because of COVID-19: Instead, because of a drama-filled, decades-long property ownership battle between the restaurant family and a mortgage lender.
For 36 years, Gotham Bar & Grill helped set the standard for fine dining in the city. It consistently garnered rave reviews, but it was a perhaps a confluence of factors—the trend toward more casual dining, a shift in ownership and the current crisis—that lead to the restaurant’s demise.
The Greene Grape Annex
A coffee shop—designed by the MP Shift team—popular for neighborhood regulars and people hanging out in Fort Greene alike, this corner spot was idyllic for hanging out and striking up conversations with strangers (in other words, it felt like a community space).
The London flagship of this luxe Cantonese chain, which includes multiple locations worldwide, was the first Chinese restaurant to achieve Michelin-star status. At this 11,000-square-foot outpost, diners could order the original's signature plates, like roasted silver cod with champagne sauce and Chinese honey, and stir-fry black-pepper rib eye with merlot. It had a reputation for being expensive and for its club-restaurant feel, but when it came down to the food, especially the dim sum selection, many of the dishes hit the spot.
Known for concoctions that were as tasty as they were whimsical, this creative creamery announced on social media that it would be closing its doors permanently come November 1st. "We want to thank our loyal fans, customers, partners, and community for the past 7 amazing years. We are blessed to have been given the opportunity to share our vision for ice cream with the world," reads a statement on the shop's site.
If anyone can claim to be an expert on Neapolitan pizza, it’s Keste’s Roberto Caporuscio. When he opened on Bleecker Street, it ushered in a wave of thin pies with puffy pockets of air and tiny black blisters across the city. We're still in love with Neapolitan pizza today, and while this location has closed, there's still a Kesté open in FiDi.
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The mashup of Cuban-Chinese cuisine is not common these days. At this Upper West Side stalwart, no one stayed a stranger when the staff mixed with the patrons to peppy cubano music. The portions were gigantic; the bread was steamy and buttery; and specialties like masitas de cerdo (crisp, chewy pork chunks) or bistec en escabeche (a platter-size steak pounded thin and marinated with peppers, onions, garlic, olives and vinegar) came with heaps of rice, beans and fried plantains.
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One of the few Malaysian restaurants in New York, Let’s Makan served a delightful menu of dishes—many you’d find street vendors serving in chef Michelle Lam’s homeland—such as various noodle soups and colorful desserts.
Central Park’s historic Loeb Boathouse restaurant—a wedding favorite famously seen in When Harry Met Sally and “Sex and the City”—shuttered this fall and laid off 163 of its employees, citing “unforeseeable business circumstances prompted by COVID-19.”
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Before there was Balthazar or Pastis, Keith McNally’s Lucky Strike was a beloved Soho restaurant since its opening in 1989. While the neighborhood has been stripped of its artistic-bohemian vibe (and replaced with luxury stores through the years), this was one spot that made you feel like you found a one-of-a-kind treasure.
When the legendary dive bar closed its original Lower East Side location in 2013, regulars were devastated. They didn’t have to go without their Max Fish fix for too long—the bar reopened just a few blocks away in 2014—but alas, six years later, the reboot has ended yet again due to the pandemic. The team is currently scouting new locations for the storied bar, according to an Instagram announcement.
A modern take on the retro diner, MeMe’s offered playful diner-style bites that felt so nostalgic, you'd have called granny afterwards just to tell her you love her. The queer-run restaurant created a space that was open and inviting to everyone, making the announcement that it was closing in November that much more painful to swallow.
At his Mission Chinese redux, Danny Bowien traded in beer kegs, paper dragons and a cramped, dive-punk Orchard Street basement for smart cocktails, banquet-hall booths and an ample, gleaming dining room in the far reaches of Chinatown. While this location is closed, you can find similar vibes at the Bushwick location.
David Chang closed Nishi, a restaurant that was often overlooked in the chef’s Momofuku empire, but it was a sleeper hit of sorts—despite uneven reviews at first—for many with its innovative take on Italian cuisine. The celebrity chef is also moving his beloved Ssäm Bar from the East Village to take place of Bar Wayō, which opened last year, in the South Street Seaport. Elsewhere, a D.C. Momofuku location is also shuttered.
"2020 has been quite the year and while we have tried to hold off as long as possible, it is with great sadness that we announce the closure of Ramen Lab. Our last day will be Friday, November 13th," the Ramen Lab restaurant team announced on Facebook back in October. "It has been our greatest honor and joy to share with New York City and visitors from around the world, the art and deliciousness of craft ramen."
Chef John Fraser’s 701West inside the glitzy Edition Times Square Hotel is no more after the Marriott corporation announced its closing after barely a year in operation. It was one of the few destination restaurants in a neighborhood with limited choices (at least non-chain businesses) and despite its fine-dining atmosphere, the menu was very gently priced.
Dining at Taladwat was akin to attending a pot luck—but much better because you’re sharing dishes that span the southern, central and western regions of Thailand. Chef David Bank doled out rich, spicy curries and hearty pork dishes that you don’t find from your local Thai takeout joint.
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Takashi celebrated its 10th anniversary mark this spring, but diners will no longer be able to feast on its yakiniku fare (Japanese-style tabletop grilling) serving nose-to-tail cuts of beef. The restaurant offered a glimpse of the handful of quality yakitori restaurants open today.
After nearly a century on West 52nd Street—including a storied stretch as Manhattan's most thirsted-after speakeasy—the 21 Club and its famous jockey statues will be waving goodbye for the "foreseeable future" due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a spokesperson announced in a statement in December.
Chef-partner Aris Tuazon shared an official closing announcement of the Filipino restaurant, which opened in the East Village back in 2011, in an Instagram post: “It is with great sadness that we announce the closing of Ugly Kitchen. Due to the insurmountable challenges of the pandemic, we have come to the sad and difficult decision that we have no alternative but to close our doors…Perhaps one day, when the time is right, Ugly Kitchen will rise once again. Until then, we bid our farewell.”
Ever since opening in 2013, diners packed into Ann Redding and Matt Danzer’s Nolita restaurant Uncle Boons. The chefs set a stage—one filled with vintage posters and some tiki bar touches—that showcased modern Thai dishes without watering them down. New Yorkers ate it up; they loved the complex (and often fiery) dishes served in the laid back, fun environment. Now Redding and Danzer have decided to close the restaurant permanently after not reaching an agreement with their landlord.
The Mushreuben—a vegetarian spin on the diner classic had us dreaming of the roasted maitake mushrooms with sauerkraut, peppadew peppers, melted Swiss cheese and special sauce between toasted caraway-rye bread—was one of our favorite dishes in 2019. Other plates at Camilla Marcus’s Soho restaurant brought a cool West Coast vibe to New York we’ll miss.
The Best Restaurants in New York City
October 2020: As New York restaurants open their doors for indoor dining, we can’t help but reflect on how much has changed for the hospitality industry during the course of the current crisis. We have mixed feelings about jumping back into full-service restaurant experiences—whether it’s dining outdoors or indoors (even with limited capacity).
For those of us choosing to dine out, it also comes at a time when the restaurant industry is re-examining how to create a more equitable workplace, from fairly paying employees to ensuring the safety of its employees. But we realize that many of you, dear readers, will nevertheless be choosing to support your local spots and want guidance of who is doing what right now.
While restaurants are evolving to meet the needs of this new landscape and additional guidelines for the reopening process are changing daily, we hope you’ll find this list helpful as you navigate these new waters. Please bear in mind that we have not been able to hit up all these spots since their reopenings, but we have stood behind their food and service in the past. Check back as we will be updating this list more often than we did prior to lockdown to reflect the ebbs and flows of the dining out scene. And, remember, with so many service workers putting themselves on the frontlines to feed us, we hope you’ll be gracious and tip kindly.
Back in 2019, we made some radical changes to Time Out New York’s EAT List, gutting it from the ground up to forgo mentions to those uber-expensive fine dining spots. Instead, we focused on curating a feature you can use more readily in your day-to-day life than just on special occasions. Frankly, no subjective best-of list is perfect, but we are committed to regularly updating this list to make sure it’s not only useful but a more diverse and equitable representation of our vibrant city.
Note: A number of the best chefs, restaurants and concepts in the city have been welcomed into the Time Out Market. Because that is the highest honor we can award, and we now have a tighter relationship with them, establishments related to market vendors have all been included in the EAT List but not ranked alongside other great establishments in the city. You can find those places below. We look forward to welcoming you back into our markets when it is safe to do so again.
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